Wick Communications

When the dam breaks

In Reporting on 18 Sep 2014 at 5:17 pm

dam breaks art

This week, you needed an ark to get around parts of southern Arizona. The remnants of Hurricane Odile washed east from the coast, largely south of Tucson and over a wide stretch of Wick territory. Obviously, that is big news for people in flood watch and warning zones.

Newspapers in the path of the storm did a variety of things to keep up. Some of them worked better than others.

Take a look at what Dan Shearer and the team in Green Valley did on Wednesday. It’s a tick-tock update for the homepage that is simply topped with each tidbit of new information. He wasn’t promising to freshen all that prose each and every time. I think that made a lot of sense.

I noticed that an editor in El Paso, Texas, posted video, which was a good idea.

Some of you linked to National Weather Service reporting and graphics. That is a great idea.

Wick news sites reported more pageviews throughout the region than they usually gain on a Wednesday. The Eastern Arizona Courier’s 20,971 pageviews is more than double the average for a single day. …

Big storms can be perfect storms for those in the news business. Communications between staff members and between staff and sources can be a challenge. Roads are out. Phone lines are down. And the people with the answers are busy. And you will be right in the thick of it when Aunt Beatrice calls wanting to know how long you think the rain is going to last. You will be swamped in more ways than one.

Meanwhile, you want to do something nice in the paper. You need to be out in the stuff to get the photos and talk to those affected.

Digital updates can suffer. I get it. I’ve been there.

Thanks to all for the extra effort during a trying weather week in Arizona. Consider a post mortem in your building to discuss lessons learned for next time. Maybe you want to put someone in charge of digital updates. Maybe you want to update more often from the field. Maybe you should press business side employees into editorial service. Our readers need us more than ever in times of trial. Ask yourself how you might respond next time.



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